How to get your Tessera Sanitaria and Enroll in the Italian Public Health System

What is a Tessera Sanitaria? Essentially a Tessera Sanitaria is an Italian Health Insurance Card. A document issued to all Italian citizens or those entitled to the services the Servizio Sanitario Nazionale (SSN), National Health Service, provides. Those with a permesso di soggiorno (permit to stay) in Italy are also entitled to enroll for a Tessera Sanitaria.

The Tessera Sanitaria includes a person’s name, personal information, and Codice Fiscale (fiscal code).

How-to-Guide: Enroll in a Tessera Sanitaria and Italy’s Public Health System

As a foreigner in Italy, if you have a permesso di soggiorno (permit to stay) you are entitled to enroll in Italy’s public health system and receive state-sponsored medical services, just like Italian citizens. These services include access to affordable prescriptions and low-cost healthcare services through the public medical system.

Tourists are also able to register for the public system, but the cost is much higher than average. Medical travel insurance enrollment in the public health system is only worth it for a long-term stay. To qualify for these medical services you must register for and obtain a Tessera Sanitaria (health card). The card can be used throughout Europe, not just in Italy.


Obtaining your Tessera Sanitaria: Step by Step

The process to register for this health card requires several steps that are not always the most straightforward. Here is a simple, step-by-step tutorial on how to get your Tessera Sanitaria. If you have a student visa, a spousal visa, or are a tourist with a valid passport, you must purchase a INA-Assitalia health insurance (working visas do not require you to pay a fee to INA-Assitalia). The cost for non-EU (European Union) students is €71.00 for up to 6 months and €120.00 for 12 months. Tourists must pay an annual fee of €700.00.

  • Go and register for your Codice Fiscale (tax identification number). You can receive your individual Codice Fiscale from Agenzia delle Entrate (tax office). The number is a combination of your first and last name, birth date, and place of birth. This number is comparable to a social security number in Italy. At your provincial Agenzia delle Entrate bring your passport, fill out the appropriate form, and register your information. It only takes a few minutes to do and is free.
    • Look up your local Agenzia delle Entrate here.
    • You will be printed a paper copy of your Codice Fiscale and the actual card will be mailed to your Italian place of residence.
  • Visit your Local Health Authority (ASL) office, which you should visit before applying and starting the process for your Tessera Sanitaria. Make sure you ask about all the requirements, documents needed for the process, and fees to pay, and confirm all steps to complete.
  • At your local Post Office, you must pay the annual fee. This fee is paid a “bollentino”. Fill out the form with the following information and remember, you must pay the fee in cash:

INA-Assitalia – C/C n. 712 70 003

Le Assicurazioni d’Italia

Agenzia Generale di Roma “Conto 20”

Via del Tritone, 181 – 00187 Roma

Causale: Polizza Sanitaria studente straniero di 6 mesi OR 12 mesi

Import: 120,00 Euro (130.82 USD) or 71,00 Euro (77.40 USD)

Gather all required documents for the process and bring them to your local ASL office. The official documents needed include:

    • Permesso di Soggiorono (Permit to Stay) receipts
    • Valid Passport
    • Codice Fiscale (tax identification number)
    • Self-declaration of residency
    • Annual fee payment receipt
    • INA-Assitalia payment receipts (only for students)
  • Choose a General Practitioner (GP) doctor and register with them. Find a GP that works for you, but it must be located in your neighborhood. You will make your choice from a list given to you at the ASL office.
    • You will show the GP your official registration documents, and they will register you as a patient.
  • The final step is to complete the registration process after you have submitted all required documents to your ASL office. Keep the receipt from the ASL office, as it will serve as proof of registration for a Tessera Sanitaria until you receive your official card in the mail.

Benefits of having a Tessera Sanitaria

Here are seven reasons that speak for themselves on all the benefits associated with having a Tessera Sanitaria when in Italy for an extended period. The Tessera Sanitaria is so much more than just a plastic card but is the key to accessing all of Italy’s healthcare system has to offer to its citizens.

  1. Lower Medical Costs: free or low costing medical services, instead of large out-of-pocket medical costs
  2. Access to medical services: easy access to all medical services provided to Italian citizens
  3. General Practitioners: able to receive care and medical examinations from general practitioner doctor
  4. Prescriptions: obtain free or low-cost prescription medications, which are difficult to obtain without a Tessera Sanitaria
  5. Hospital Access: the ability to make appointments at local hospitals closest to you
  6. Safety Assured while Abroad: having access to Italy’s public health system just in case something happens while you are abroad in Italy
  7. Less worries: do not have to worry about receiving or affording medical care if a medical crisis arises during your time in Italy

Why should you get a Tessera Sanitaria in Italy?

Once you have registered for your Tessera Sanitaria, you can go to your GP for check-ups and to schedule specialist visits and tests at the public hospital. You need to get a ricetta (red and white prescription form issued to you by your GP) to schedule any appointments at the hospital. All hospital appointments must be scheduled by calling your regional CUP (Centro Unificato Prenotazioni) hotline.

Better safe than sorry. As a foreigner, having a Tessera Sanitaria is an additional step towards ensuring your health and well-being during your stay in Italy. If you plan on studying, working, or just visiting Italy, getting your Tessera Sanitaria for a stay in Italy should be one of your top priorities. If you want to prioritize your health and wellness while abroad in Italy, this is the first and most important step. Stay healthy alongside all other citizens of Italy.

About the Author: Elizabeth Mayer

I am a junior at Miami University of Ohio pursuing a Public Health and Gerontology degree with minors in Global Health and Art History. I am studying abroad in Florence, Italy for the semester where I hope to increase my knowledge concerning Public Health and gain a deeper understanding of Italy's healthcare system.